Cover image of "Triptych" by Karin Slaughter, the first Will Trent novel

It’s 2006. More than 20 years earlier a 15-year-old girl had been viciously raped, murdered, and mutilated in an Atlanta suburb. Her date that evening, John Spence, also 15, was tried as an adult and sentenced for 22 years to life in a maximum security prison. John has now been paroled and is attempting to eke out an existence with a job in a car wash. Meanwhile, two young teenage girls have lost their lives in a shockingly similar manner to that in the old case — but the police have not made the connection. This is the set-up in the first Will Trent novel.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Enter Will Trent, disability and all

Enter Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Will works in a special autonomous GBI unit and reports directly to the director, Amanda Wagner. A functional illiterate due to profound dyslexia, Will has nonetheless acquired both a college degree and a doctorate in criminology. He is regarded as one of the bureau’s finest investigators.

Triptych (Will Trent #1) by Karin Slaughter (2006) 512 pages ★★★★★ 

A brutal rape and murder, with more to come

Soon after Will has inserted himself into the case of the two girls another, similar murder occurs. But the victim is a 40-year-old prostitute. Then a young girl, a potential witness to the prostitute’s murder, vanishes. While trying to sort out the coincidences and inconsistencies among these several cases, Will works principally with two local detectives. Neither trusts him. Then, as he looks into the murder of the prostitute, Will is shocked to encounter his on-and-off-again lover, Angie Polaski. They have known each other for 25 years, ever since they met in the Georgia Children’s Home, both products of extreme physical abuse at a very young age. Angie is now a cop, working undercover as a prostitute on the Vice detail.

As the investigation proceeds, Will, Angie, and the other two local police officers stumble about in a welter of confusing clues. We know that eventually they’ll link the two-decade-old rape and murder to today’s cases — but they don’t know that until nearly the very end.

A rip-roaring novel of suspense

This is a rip-roaring novel of suspense, a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re a mystery fan and not put off by graphic descriptions of violence and sex, you’ll love this book.

By the way, the title, Triptych, refers to a work of art consisting of “three canvases hinged together to make one image when it was open, another image when it was closed.”

About the author

Karin Slaughter is one of America’s most gifted mystery novelists. She’s also one of the most successful. Since the publication of her first novel in 2001, Slaughter has written six books in the Grant County series, ten in the Will Trent series, and six standalone novels. Triptych, the inaugural effort in the Will Trent series, helps make clear why more than 35 million copies of her books have been sold in 36 languages. I’ve reviewed several other novels she’s written: Kisscut (#2), A Faint Cold Fear (#3), Indelible (#4), and Faithless (#5), all in the Grant County series; Broken (#4) and Unseen (#9) in the Will Trent series; and the standalone novels Criminal, Blindsighted, and Pretty Girls. I’ll keep coming back for more.

At Karin Slaughter’s series of Grant County thrillers, I’ve reviewed all six novels in that series.

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